We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children. So says a famous proverb. I have being contemplating, of late, local government’s role in this vision. The proverb encourages those of us with influence to look beyond our own day-to-day activity, to consider and make decisions that will be of lasting benefit for our children to come.
One only needs to turn on the TV or read the news to know that too many decisions have not been made with the best intentions. We live in a time of instant gratification, lack of connection, we take and we pollute. Many search for hope and too many lack bold ambitions for their own future let alone someone else’s.
I believe, and I know, many others do too, that this needs to change and soon. And the only way it is going to change is if we all commit to it – well a lot of us anyway. It will require us to get really smart in the way we make decisions. And it will require us to be collaborative. It will mean that we need to clearly know where we want to be in 100, 50 years and then work back from there.
I see local government as having two key areas of activity – civic responsibilities and local leadership and advocacy. The first is core business (and legislative) of providing safe, good-quality local infrastructure, local public services and regulatory functions in the most cost-effective way - always a challenge here in the north. It is the second that will come into play as we look to become smarter in the way we invest, enable and serve.
We need to be thinking cleverly about climate impacts, business development (that bring jobs), community well-being and we need to be acting in a way that will serve the best interests of not just our people and place today, but for the generations that will follow. What sort of investment do we want to attract? Where are we going to get best value in our infrastructure spending and not just tangible value, but the non-tangible – the part that supports healthy, strong and engaged communities. How do we best serve our district for the greater good, with a limited budget, a huge area and massive disparities?
I don’t yet know all the answers to these big questions. What I do know is we have started the work and we want you to be involved as we look to evolve our Sustainable District Strategy over the next 18 months. It’s all part of a bigger discussion being held across many other groups and organisations, across New Zealand and the rest of the world.
If you need some inspiration as to why this is important, then look to your children, your grandchildren and think of their grandchildren to come. Dwell for just a moment on a world you want them to live in, when they are your age.
Motivating isn’t it?